The Mamiya RZ series of cameras to date consists of three models: (a) the original Mamiya RZ67, introduced in 1982; (b) the Mamiya RZ67 II, introduced in 1995; and (c) the Mamiya RZ67 IID, which was introduced in 2004. The name "RZ" was derived from the Mamiya RB67, where "RB" stands for revolving back. Originally it was thought that the RZ series would replace the RB series, but this did not happen: as of 2010, the Mamiya RB67 Pro SD and the Mamiya RZ67 IID are still being sold new. The RZ models can use many of the RB components, such as lenses and backs, but with limitations, as the RB series cameras are completely mechanical, while the RZ lenses have Seiko #1 electronic shutters and electronic components are used throughout the camera. Being completely modular, the camera can be configured in many ways. Lenses, viefinders and backs can all be exchanged and full auto exposure is possible with some of the finder options. The RZ models can mostly be found in studio settings as they are quite bulky due to the revolving back construction, but as they are now quite affordable in the used camera market, more of them are in the hands of enthusiasts, who also use them on location. The Mamiya RZ67 IID is still in production in 2010, the latest offering by Mamiya is the RZ33, a RZ67 IID coupled with a 33 Megapixel digital back.
The RZ67 camera body is box-shaped. It is covered with non-slip rubber, to which a dimple pattern is applied. As the system is completely modular, the body needs to be connected to at least a lens and a back to function. One 6V PX28 or 4LR44 battery in the camera body is providing the energy for operation and also for the optional AE finders. There are several viewfinders, which can be attached (see below). While the original body design concept remains almost unchanged to this date, the body has undergone some changes over time. The original RZ67 featured a shutter speed dial with only full speeds from 8 seconds to 1/400th of a second. The RZ67 II and IID feature half speeds as well. The RZ II and IID also feature upgrades to the electronic components, including a safety lock for most types of backs when the dark slide has been removed and a fine-focusing knob on the right side of the focusing gears. The RZ IID features a built-in electronic interface for digital camera backs. Focusing is achieved through a rack and pinion driven bellows, which extends by 46 mm and allows very close focusing with wide angle and normal lenses. The mirror can be locked up by threading a cable release into the cable release socket on the camera lens, then depressing the shutter button on the camera body and afterwards using the cable release on the lens. A double cable release is available to facilitate this operation through the depressing of a single button. It is important to note that the silver connector of the double cable release has to be threaded into the shutter button on the camera, while the black connector has to be threaded into the lenses socket. In the other orientation the camera always fires at 1/400th of a second! The RZ67 bodies feature a built in beeper, which is used to sound warnings. A warning will sound when the battery is low, when the shutter, which is built into the lens needs servicing or when the exposure time in the "B" setting reaches 20 seconds (exposure in the "B" setting will terminate after 30 seconds). Several LEDs at the bottom of the viewfinder are also used to communicate warnings. The darkslide triggers a red LED, while the lack of film in the back causes an orange LED to light up. The Mamiya RZ67 II and IID also support the Metz SCA system through a hotshoe on the camera body, which can connect to the dedicated Metz SCA 395 adapter. This allows the flash ready signal in the viewfinder to be engaged. It should be noted that none of the RZ67 models supports TTL/OTF flash. Film transport on the film backs is achieved through a single stroke of the transport lever. This also brings the mirror down and cocks the lens shutter. A power winder can be used (currently model II) to automate the procedure. On the lower left of the front of the camera body is an electrical interface, which can be connected to remote triggers (an infrared version is manufactured by Mamiya and a radio trigger was made by Polaroid), as well as the shutter releases of the L-grip and the Aerial grip. The connector layout is (from left to right): 6V/BW; Ground; S1 Switch (half press of the shutter button) and S2 Switch (full press of the shutter button).
|Mamiya RZ67 II. Picture by Inkyfingerz. (Image rights)|
Mamiya RZ67 backs
The RZ67 is a true multiformat camera. Originally designed for 6×7 cm 120 and 220 roll film, film backs also exist for 6×6 cm and 6×4.5 cm formats. The 6×6 cm back supports 120 and 220 film through a pressure plate, which can be rotated, while the 6×7 cm and 6×4.5 cm backs come in two versions, dedicated to 120 or 220 film respectively. With the Mamiya RZ67 II model II 6×7 cm and 6×4.5 cm backs were introduced, which feature two film counters in order for one of them to be on top of the back regardless of the orientation (portrait or landscape) of the back. The 6×6 cm and the 6×4.5 cm backs are provided with metal view finder masks to compensate for the smaller film format. In addition to the roll film backs, a Polaroid film back for 660 type film exists (in 2010 only Fuji Packfilm FP-100C, FP-100B and FP-3000B is available). The film format of this back is 7×7 cm with 45 degree corners. To obtain 6×7 cm images on the Polaroid film, the last models of this back supported two metal masks (landscape and portrait). Earlier Polaroid backs could be modified to take the masks as well, essentially by drilling two quarter-sized holes into the metal mask to override the safety locks. A Polaroid 545i back was manufactured as of 1995, which could also be used for Fuji and Kodak quickload large format sheet film. This back is probably the only one without a film speed dial and electronic contacts, which communicate the film speed to the camera body. The resulting images are 8 x 8 cm, with 45 degree corners. This back is rumored to have been developed on the request of Annie Leibovitz. Most types of Mamiya RB67 backs can also be used after attaching the Mamiya RZ G-Lock adapter. The film speed of Mamiya RB67 backs is not communicated to the camera though. Digital backs were manufactured by Phase One, Kodak and possibly others for the Mamiya RZ67 II and IID. Mamiya makes digital backs for the Mamiya RZ67 IID. It should be noted that currently no digital back with a 6×7 cm sensor exists, the "crop-factor" of each back has to be taken into consideration when choosing an appropriate lens for a job. For the Mamiya digital backs, special ground glass screens exist, which show the sensor boundaries etched into the glass.
|Mamiya RZ67 with 180mm RB lens, power winder and extra back.|
Picture by Rst90274. (Image rights)
Several models of finders exist for the Mamiya RZ67. The simplest is the waist level finder. It features a magnifier, which can be engaged. The image is up right, but left and right are switched, which makes this finder hard to use for action photography. The AE prism finder shows the image with the correct orientation. Two models exist, the first one, with control dials on the right side is for the original RZ67 and model II, with control dials on the top of the finder for the subsequent models. Both models allow AE and AE-lock operation with either integral or spot metering. The first model could only be adjusted in full steps, while the version for the RZ67 II (and IID) can be adjusted in half speeds. The switch between integral and spot metering can be automatic or the user can set the system to the preferred mode manually. The use of the "D" screen is not recommended with the AE finders, as the spot metering mode will result in erroneous readings due to the clear center of the screen. A non-metered prism finder with an upright and correctly oriented image also exists. In addition, Mamiya manufactured a "chimney" type AE finder, which magnifies the entire viewfinder image by 3x and is especially useful for tabletop and macro photography. This finder, which like the first version of the AE prism can only be adjusted in full steps, can be used on all RZ67 models and shows the image in the same orientation as the waist level finder. The ground glass, which is attached to the camera body can be exchanged for a number of different models. Most noteworthy are the "A4 checkered" screen, which is useful in general photography and architecture and the specialized screens for the digital backs. All metering viewfinders can be used with linear Pol filters. It is interesting to note that the Tilt/Shift adapter exposure can be measured with the AE finders while tilted or shifted without exposure compensation.
|Mamiya RZ67 AEII prism finder detail.|
Picture by sensencw. (Image rights)
The Mamiya RZ lens arsenal ranges from the 37 mm fish eye lens to the 500 mm APO Tele. The flange distance is 105 mm. All lenses feature Seiko #1 electronic shutters with speeds from 8 sec. to 1/400th of a sec., B (up to 30 sec) and T and a manual emergency speed (without battery) of 1/400th of a second. The speed dial for these shutters is built into the camera body, unlike the Mamiya RB lenses, where the speed is set directly on each lens. The manual emergency speed of 1/400th of a second is set by moving the collar around the shutter button to the orange position on the left. Most of the lenses feature a filter diameter of 77 mm, with the exception of the 37 mm lens (no filter), the 75 mm shift and short barrel lenses (105 mm) and the 500 mm lenses (105 mm). Several of the later lens designs feature floating elements (50 mm ULD, 65 mm L-A, 75 mm L and 140 mm M L-A). A complete listing of all Mamiya RZ67 lenses can be found at Christoph Sensen's Mamiya RZ67 lens table. Two noteworthy lenses are the 75 mm and 180 mm short barrel lenses. These can be used with the Mamiya Tilt/Shift adapter at infinity. As the lenses feature electronic shutters, the longest exposure time that can be used in the "B" setting is 30 seconds. For the last ten seconds, a warning beep will sound and then the shutter will close. For longer exposure times, all lenses feature a mechanical "T" switch. The maximum flash sync speed of each RZ lens is 1/400th of a second, as all lenses feature built-in leaf shutters. All lenses feature a PC socket to connect studio flashes. A 1.4x tele converter can be used with many of the RZ lenses. Mamiya recommends to store the lenses with shutters released when they are not used for a long time. The Mamiya RZ models can also use the Mamiya RB lenses. The flange length of the RZ models is 7 mm shorter than the flange length of the RB. For this reason alone, RZ lenses cannot be used on the RB models, and of course the RB models do not support the electronic link of the RZ lenses to the camera body. Auto exposure on the RZ models cannot be used with RB lenses, as the shutter speed of the RB lenses is set by using a ring on the lens. In addition, when using the power winder RZ with RB lenses, the shutter button must be held down until after the exposure is completed, as the winder will advance the film as soon as the shutter button is released even while the exposure is still ongoing.
The bellows focusing on the Mamiya 67RZ series already provides excellent close focusing capabilities with wide angle and normal lenses. In addition, Mamiya manufactures two extension tubes (#1 and 2), which extend the bellows by 45 and 82 mm, respectively. The short barrel spacer, which was developed to allow infinity focus with the 75 mm and 180 mm short barrel lenses works otherwise just like an extension tube. It extends the bellows by 27.2 mm. Closeup Tables for Mamiya RZ Film Backs, compiled by Christoph Sensen list the macro capabilities of each lens, which is recommended by Mamiya for close-up work.
|Mamiya RZ67 II with 140 mm L/A Macro, extension tubes and AE chimney finder.|
Picture by sensencw. (Image rights)
The Tilt/Shift adapter was especially designed for the 75 mm and 180 mm short barrel lenses, but it can also be used with many other lenses for tabletop and macro photography. The Tilt/Shift adapter is delivered with a special electric cable release adapter, which "bends" the electronic cable release connector on the camera by 90 degrees, as the Tilt/Shift adapter otherwise obstructs this connection due to it's size. The cable release adapter is only necessary, if a digital back is used on a camera other than the Mamiya RZ IID. The double cable release can only be used with the Tilt/Shift adapter without shift for when shifted up. A ground glass back is available for the use with the Tilt/Shift adapter. This back allows the fine-focusing similar to a large-format camera. To use it, the M/R switch on the camera body has to be in the "M" position, the "T" switch on the camera lens has to be engaged and the shutter button has to be depressed. The Tilt/Shift adapter can be used with the AE finders without exposure compensation! In 2010 Mamiya stopped producing the 75 mm short barrel lens, but it can still be found in the used market.
Grips and Tripod Adapters
Mamiya manufactured a L-shaped grip and an U-shaped grip for the Mamiya RZ67 series. Both grips feature an electronic shutter release, which allows the firing of the camera using the left-hand trigger finger. The U-shaped grip was introduced in 1995 and is also called the "aerial grip". The Tilt/Shift adapter and the Polaroid backs protrude from the camera body. For these Mamiya manufactured two tripod spacers. Especially model 2 is recommended for use with the Mamiya RZ67 series.
Other Accessories (Highlights)
Mamiya manufactures or manufactured a large number of accessories, which are not mentioned above for the RZ67 series. These include:
- Diopter correction lenses for the various viewfinders, except for the chimney finder (has built in diopter correction)
- G-2 Bellows lens hood (a simpler version of the G-3 Bellows lens hood)
- G-3 Bellows lens hood (65-350 mm lens adjustable)
- Bellows front hood extension for G-3 bellows lens hood
- 100-200 mm zoom lens mounting ring, prevents G-3 from rotating when zooming
- Gelatine filter holder for 50-350 mm lenses
- Adjustable sun shield plate with 77 mm mounting ring
- Hot shoe PC flash adapter (by Wein)
- Quick shoe for fast attaching and detaching for tripods
- External battery case for keeping battery warm in cold weather
- Electromagnetic cable release
- Infrared transmitter and receiver
- Radio transmitter and receiver (by Polaroid)
- Adjustable flash bracket
There were two other major competitors who manufactured 6x7 cm cameras, Pentax and Bronica. The Pentax 67 looks like an oversized 35 mm SLR and is not as modular as the RZ as there are no interchangable backs and Polariod film is only supported in specially modified cameras. The Bronica GS-1 does not feature a revolving back and therefore is smaller and lighter than the RZ. Like the Mamiya RZ and RB series, the Bronica GS-1 supports multiple film formats (from 4.5 x 6 cm to 6 x 7 cm and Polaroid film) via dedicated backs. As an advantage over the Mamiya RZ series of cameras, it features TTL OTF flash capability. Unfortunately, the Bronica GS-1 does not feature built-in bellows focusing (although a dedicated Macro bellows attachment exists), therefore the GS lenses cannot be focused as close as most of the comparable Mamiya RZ lenses. Mamiya of course also makes the Mamiya RB67 camera series, which is completely mechanical. Therefore the RB67 series cannot be used in "A" or "AEL" modes. Also, several unique lenses only exist for the RZ67 series, especially the 75 mm and 180 mm short barrel lenses (and their tilt and shift adapter) and the 110 mm f/2.8 lens, the fastest lens of the entire Mamiya 6x7 camera line up.
Buying a used Mamiya RZ67 camera
Many Mamiya RZ67 cameras were used by professional photographers and have been exposed to heavy duty loads. This can especially affect the rack and pinion focusing system. Potential buyers should check if the bellows is light tight and if the focusing is smooth. The fine focusing knob on the Mamiya RZ II and IID can go out of alignment if the focusing gears are bent. This will result either in enhanced friction when focusing or no focusing ability at all. Teeth from the rack and pinion focusing system can be missing which leads to "bumps" when focusing. As the Mamiya RZ series is an electronic camera throughout, corroded contacts in any part of the system (body, lenses, finders and backs) can lead to problems. Another problem, which has been reported from time to time is battery drainage, even when the shutter button is locked and no AE finder is mounted. Usually a thorough cleaning by a professional camera service and fix this problem. The battery should last at least several months under normal conditions.
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), ISBN 0-935398-16-3 (hard). P.169.
- Bob Shell (1995) Mamiya Pro Guide, Hove Foto Books, Newpro, Faringdon Oxon., UK, ISBN 0-906447-76-3
- Mamiya RZ33 at the Mamiya USA Web Site
- Mamiya RZ67 at Wikipedia
- Mamiya RZ67 at medfmt
- Instruction manuals Mamiya and accessores manuals at www.orphancameras.com by Mike Butkus
- Mamiya RZ67 II Review in ephotozine (2001) by David Tarn
- Mamiya RZ Lens Table by Christoph Sensen
- Mamiya RZ Closeup Tables for Film Backs by Christoph Sensen